Rome, N.Y. - More than one million wreaths were laid today at noon at more than 1,300 cemeteries across the United States on this, Wreaths Across America Day, and about 1,500 of them were laid in and around Rome.
The Rome-Utica Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America sponsored the events held at six cemeteries in and around Rome.
Those six cemeteries were St John's, St. Peter's, St. Mary's and Rome Cemetery, all in Rome, as well as Evergreen Cemetery in Lee and the Westernville Presbyterian Cemetery in Westernville.
Rome-Utica Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America President Joe Maurer says the wreaths themselves are sponsored in honor of a loved one who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Maurer says this is a small way to remember those veterans who made our country what it is today, "It's almost like Memorial Day in December, except Memorial Day honors veterans who died in service, we honor all deceased veterans."
Maurer says it's important to know the background behind this national day of remembrance designated by Congress back in 2007.
He says it all began in 1963 when a 12 year old paper boy from Bangor, Maine named Morrill Worchester won a contest for selling the most newspapers. The youngster's reward, a trip to Washington D.C..
On that trip, Worchester visited Arlington National Cemetery and that experience, as the story goes, followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. That 12 year old boy became the owner of a business in Harrington, Maine that sells wreaths called the Worchester Wreath Company.
In 1992, nearly 30 after his first trip to Arlington, when his company had extra wreaths left over at Christmas, Worchester thought it would be a good idea to put those extra wreaths on the monuments of soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in an area that had seen less and less foot traffic over the years. He didn't want these service men and women to be forgotten.
That trip south became and annual trek for Worcester and a number of members of veteran's groups from Maine, and after the internet caught on, and this idea got more attention, people from across the country wanted to do something similar at their local cemeteries, and in 2007, National Wreaths Across America Day was born.
Jessica Ott says she hasn't missed the event at St. Peter's Cemetery since it began six years ago, and says she never will as long as the organizers hold it, "Both my grandfathers were veterans. My cousin is currently in the Army stationed in South Korea. I have an uncle that died during the Vietnam War. So it's just kind a very meaningful to my family that we show our support to our veterans."